Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for the amendment of the constitution to ensure full autonomy for local governments in the country. Speaking during 12th Annual Conference of the Chartered Institute of Local Government and Public Administration of Nigeria in Abuja, he said autonomy for local governments was the only way people at the grassroots level could enjoy the benefits of government. The conference had as its theme, “Local government autonomy as the bedrock of rural development.’
The Speaker, who was represented by the member representing Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency Lagos State, Jide Jimoh, said, “I know for sure the issue of autonomy has to be taken from the constitution itself. There is nowhere in the whole world where you have the listed number of local governments in their constitution except in this country. Ab initio that is a failure on our part as a result because of the military decree that established that constitution and it is subject to be amended.
“By the time we want to amend it, we should take it off completely from local government and make sure we have democratically elected local government in place without putting the list of the number of local governments in the constitution. Therefore there would be freedom, there would be independence, people would vote for people of their choices and the result would be made available.
“In order for us to do that, there is need for us to amend the constitution of this country, take away the issue of putting local government names in our constitution. Take it off completely. Allow the local government to be embedded in the constitution as an establishment on its own without numbering of 774 local government areas. If you do that, you have restricted the number of local governments to be created. You have restricted the power of people. You have restricted the power of people, you have restricted the control of people, therefore the independence cannot be absolute,” he said.
Council President of the Institute, Prof. Kunle Awotokun, urged that if autonomy is granted local governments must brace up to accountability and answerability. Registrar of the Institute, Dr. Uche Okereke, said they were about creating value to local government and public administration in Nigeria.